He is there every day when I go to the cafeteria for food. Forty hours a week he toils, sometimes more. Yes, he gets paid, but so what? How does he get out?
"How does he evade the system?" my friend asks me.
I'm stumped. I sit for five or so seconds, and the smile on his face grows as others at the table snicker at my expense. It is the first time they've ever seen me hesitate.
I have to answer with something... anything. "Well, ..." I imagine a bead of sweat rolling down my forehead, but it is too cool for any such thing to happen. "... he shouldn't procreate. If he can't give a good life to his children, then he shouldn't have any; this will break the cycle, and the children that are born into this world will be better off than otherwise."
"So we should round up all the poor people and have them spayed? Then we can use them for slave labor afterwards and it'll all be good, right?" The snickers become outright bursts of laughter, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
"No, no -- they should n't be forced into it, but surely you see why --"
"No, I don't see, Eric. What do you mean? What are you getting at?"
I look at him, and I see what I see everyday that I come to the cafeteria. He walks from table to table, fixing chairs and sweeping floors and rearranging ketchup bottles.
Am I really doing this to him? Is it really people like me who have dictated that his life be as it is? My glass of tea is empty, so I excuse myself for another round. Is this what capitalism really means? That I am better than him? Why am I better than him? I can't stop glancing at him as I walk through the cafeteria. I worked hard to get where I am; I am working hard even now. Why should he get what I get if all he does is rearrange ketchup bottles? I fill my glass with tea. But he has no choice; where else can he go? This is the best job he can get? Could you do better if you were in his position?
I pour out the tea, disgusted with myself. I look at my hand, quivering in the bland light of the cafeteria, and I see the scar. Greg's scar. It was his sword that pierced me that night; it was my thoughts that night that scared me more than any other night I've ever been alive. I lied that night. I know not why, but I did. It wasn't a big deal at the time, but now, looking back, I know how important that night was to my life. On that night, I was the one rearranging ketchup bottles. By choice.
What am I here for? Why do I do what I now do? Why do I have such thoughts? ...such hurt?
Absalom? No. God, I hope not.
Tyson? Perhaps. I don't think so, though.
Conan? ... Maybe. Maybe so.
That's scary, you know. Really scary.
Love me, please. Don't ignore me.